Archive for the ‘ETech’ Category

Zoe Keating Performs at ETech 2009

One of the many highlights of the Emerging Technology conference was the Wednesday evening performance of Zoe Keating: “Using a 17th Century Instrument to Create the Music of the 21st Century.”

Zoe uses a cello and a laptop to make beautiful multilayered music. She plays with herself.  It’s loopy.  Very cool.

Excuse the rough camera work up front – it was shot on a tiny Flip camera – and it gets much better a couple minutes in when I get to the closeups.


Hi-Tech Magic Teaser

At the end of the Siftables session, I met Seth Raphael (also here), who was sitting two seats over from me.  We also happen to be sharing a stage together tonight at the LateTech event – I’ll be doing science comedy and Seth presents “a new technological magic show.”

In the three or four minutes we spoke, Seth gave me an absolutely amazing demonstration of his abilities.

He told me that when top hats and handkerchiefs were in style magicians developed presentations making use of them.  But they are no longer in style.  So, as a modern magician, he draws from more modern materials.

His demonstration involved a Google search that I defined.

He asked me to type two random words into the search field but not to hit Enter yet.  I typed “turtle opinion.”  He suggested I add a third word because my two words were going to generate too many hits.  I added “candy.”

He jotted something down on a piece of scratch paper that I provided.

Then he asked me to hit Enter on my Google search and, as I did, he quickly put his paper facedown.   He estimated that it took him about a third of a second to do so.  The Google search took slightly less time.

Now here’s the amazing part:

Seth had written down on the piece of paper the number 2,510,001.

Google returned 2,510,000 results.

Then, apparently off the top of his head, he typed in a url at that he claimed is the one result/page that Google missed.

And, as a bonus, there was another number that he’d first written and then scratched out…  it was 3,540,000.  And, when we removed “candy” from the search, so that it was simply on “turtle opinion,” that was exactly how many results the search returned.

How did he do it?

I can’t wait to see what else he has up his virtual sleeve.


Siftables – Cookie Scale Computing

A couple weeks ago I saw this very cool short TED video about Siftables, a project coming out of the MIT Media Lab and Taco Lab in San Francisco.  So, for my first ETech session this morning, I’m checking out Cookie Scale Computing with Jeevan Kalanithi and David Merrill.  The brief program description is:

Cookie Scale Computing: Human-Computer Interfaces as Piles of Gesture Sensitive Displays
David Merrill (MIT Media Lab) et al

We’ve built a new type of interface that brings computation into our physical and gestural world: a set of cookie-sized, gesturally aware, neighbor detecting wireless displays that act together as one interface. We call them Siftables. People live in and know about the physical world. Computers should too.

Siftables are cookie-sized computers that are interactive, show graphics and can be manipulated physically in interesting ways – they can sense their neighbors and communicate wirelessly.  They work together to form a single interface.

They demonstrated a bunch of interesting uses – check out the website and the TED video for examples and numerous news stories.

Link:  Siftables and Taco Lab

Real Hackers Program DNA

Interesting ETech session this morning about hacking DNA led by Reshma Shetty and Barry Canton of Ginkgo BioWorks.

They brought some kits for the audience to play with.  “Play” consisted of inserting some foreign DNA into e. coli for one of three effects:  you could either make it turn red, smell like a banana, or, the most popular option, make it glow in the dark.

Took us through the first easy steps but it takes a couple days to observe effects.

Registry of Standard Biological Parts